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Mortal Follies
Cover of Mortal Follies
Mortal Follies
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
A young noblewoman must pair up with an alleged witch to ward off a curse in this irresistible sapphic romance from the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material.
“Fresh and delightful . . . All the interpersonal drama of Jane Austen meets all the complex treachery of Greek mythology.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

It is the year 1814, and life for a young lady of good breeding has many difficulties. There are balls to attend, fashions to follow, marriages to consider, and, of course, the tiny complication of existing in a world swarming with fairy spirits, interfering deities, and actual straight-up sorcerers.
Miss Maelys Mitchelmore finds her entry into high society hindered by an irritating curse. It begins innocuously enough with her dress slowly unmaking itself over the course of an evening at a high-profile ball, a scandal she narrowly manages to escape.
However, as the curse progresses to more fatal proportions, Miss Mitchelmore must seek out aid, even if that means mixing with undesirable company. And there are few less desirable than Lady Georgiana Landrake—a brooding, alluring young woman sardonically nicknamed “the Duke of Annadale”—who may or may not have murdered her own father and brothers to inherit their fortune. If one is to believe the gossip, she might be some kind of malign enchantress. Then again, a malign enchantress might be exactly what Miss Mitchelmore needs.
With the Duke’s help, Miss Mitchelmore delves into a world of angry gods and vindictive magic, keen to unmask the perpetrator of these otherworldly attacks. But Miss Mitchelmore’s reputation is not the only thing at risk in spending time with her new ally. For the reputed witch has her own secrets that may prove dangerous to Miss Mitchelmore’s heart—not to mention her life.
A young noblewoman must pair up with an alleged witch to ward off a curse in this irresistible sapphic romance from the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material.
“Fresh and delightful . . . All the interpersonal drama of Jane Austen meets all the complex treachery of Greek mythology.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

It is the year 1814, and life for a young lady of good breeding has many difficulties. There are balls to attend, fashions to follow, marriages to consider, and, of course, the tiny complication of existing in a world swarming with fairy spirits, interfering deities, and actual straight-up sorcerers.
Miss Maelys Mitchelmore finds her entry into high society hindered by an irritating curse. It begins innocuously enough with her dress slowly unmaking itself over the course of an evening at a high-profile ball, a scandal she narrowly manages to escape.
However, as the curse progresses to more fatal proportions, Miss Mitchelmore must seek out aid, even if that means mixing with undesirable company. And there are few less desirable than Lady Georgiana Landrake—a brooding, alluring young woman sardonically nicknamed “the Duke of Annadale”—who may or may not have murdered her own father and brothers to inherit their fortune. If one is to believe the gossip, she might be some kind of malign enchantress. Then again, a malign enchantress might be exactly what Miss Mitchelmore needs.
With the Duke’s help, Miss Mitchelmore delves into a world of angry gods and vindictive magic, keen to unmask the perpetrator of these otherworldly attacks. But Miss Mitchelmore’s reputation is not the only thing at risk in spending time with her new ally. For the reputed witch has her own secrets that may prove dangerous to Miss Mitchelmore’s heart—not to mention her life.
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  • From the cover Chapter 1

    When Miss Mitchelmore arrived at Lady Etheridge’s ball, she was resplendent in a gown of silver French gauze over a silken slip, her hair styled à la Grecque and decorated with roses. She caught even my eye, and I sometimes find it a little tricky to tell mortals apart. Which, I’ll admit, may have caused the tiniest of problems in the past.

    For much of the evening I watched her from across the room while an elderly colonel opined to me at length regarding the French emperor. It was not, as you may imagine, a topic about which I cared in the slightest. See above regarding my difficulty distinguishing mortals from one another, even short Corsicans. Eventually I extricated myself from the conversation by enchanting him with a slight but persistent itching between the shoulder blades.

    Thus freed, I found myself following the pretty Miss Mitchelmore. I am, amongst other things, a collector of stories, and my instincts told me that she was either the kind of lady who did interesting things or the kind to whom interesting things happened. Or, at a pinch, the kind to whom they could be made to happen. I am not above interfering in mortal affairs if it seems truly necessary, or if it would be mildly entertaining.

    Initially it seemed the evening would be a profound disappointment. Miss Mitchelmore danced with several gentlemen, but never twice with the same one. She conversed with a number of ladies but said nothing that might be scandalous. There was, however, something strange about her gown. After her first dance I noticed a tear in the hem. After the second I caught sight of a stray thread trailing from her glove and saw petals falling from her hair. I should at this point make clear to the reader that the lady’s dress, while fine, was decidedly not of fairy manufacture. The works of my people have a wholly undeserved reputation for coming apart unexpectedly or transforming into leaves and cobwebs at the slightest provocation. In fact, such disasters tend to require considerable provocation. The problem is that mortals are exceedingly provoking.

    But on this evening, at this ball, Miss Mitchelmore’s dress was most certainly dissolving into something. A snag here, a run there—­it swiftly added up to a problem that first she, and then the general assembly, could not ignore. The loss of a headdress might be explained away as youthful high spirits, but by the time her gloves had frayed to the elbows it was clear she was in no fit state to be in mixed company. And since in her present circumstances mixed company could scarcely be avoided, she was, to put it bluntly, f***ed.

    To her credit, but my disappointment, she did not panic. I have, over the centuries, seen a number of mortals deprived unexpectedly of clothing (there are some jokes, after all, which never fall out of fashion) and their responses are almost always hilarious. But once Miss Mitchelmore’s skirts had begun to go the way of the rest of her ensemble, she retreated quietly to the garden and took shelter behind an ornamental bush.

    I followed her, of course. Slipping my mortal guise, I became first a shadow, then a sparrow, then a raindrop on a chestnut leaf. I have a fondness for scenes of mortal misadventure, especially those that befall preposterously, and I had the sense that this lady’s life was soon to become extremely preposterous.

    Not having had the foresight to bring a needle, thread, and several yards of spare fabric to a society ball, Miss Mitchelmore’s efforts to conceal the dishevelment of her garments were growing increasingly futile. The fine cloth of the dress was crumbling beneath...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 10, 2023
    Set in a magic-infused Regency England and narrated by the hobgoblin Puck, of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fame, this stirring outing from Hall (Boyfriend Material) proves a fresh and delightful addition to the queer romance canon. Maelys Mitchelmore, a noblewoman, falls desperately in love with Lady Georgiana Landrake, nicknamed “the Duke of Annadale,” a rumored witch widely suspected of multiple murders. Their meeting and ensuing romance are both dependent upon and marred by two curses: the first upon Maelys, the second upon the entire House of Annadale. With help from Maelys’s best friend, Miss Bickle, and cousin John, Maelys and Georgiana delve into the world of spirits, witches, and “the Old Gods,” in a quest to undo the curses and be together. Hall achieves this intermingling of history and fantasy admirably, such that all the interpersonal drama of Jane Austen meets all the complex treachery of Greek mythology. Full of adventure, chaos, magic, and lust, this will enthrall Hall’s fans and new readers alike. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callahan, Handspun Literary.

  • AudioFile Magazine Nneka Okoye's Shakespearian-style narration works well in this English story of society and curses in the year 1814. Our hobgoblin bard, Robin, invisibly follows 19-year-old Miss Maelys Mitchelmore, with hardly any interference, to compile a story of comedy, tragedy, and romance. When her clothes disintegrate during a ball, Miss Mitchelmore discovers she is under a curse. She is rescued by the brooding Lady Georgianna Landrake, sardonically nicknamed "the Duke of Annadale." As Miss Mitchelmore's curse becomes increasingly more dangerous, the two women's mutual love becomes harder to resist. Okoye's voice for Robin, the storyteller, is exquisitely caressing and devilish. Additionally, Okoye's theatrical credentials do her credit, as the listener can easily envision all these characters onstage. S.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2023

    Nneka Okoye's narration is one of the greatest delights of Hall's (Paris Daillencourt Is About To Crumble) latest, a sparkling queer romance set in magic-laced 1814 England. Puck, known to listeners as the impish hobgoblin of A Midsummer Night's Dream, narrates the story, tracing the burgeoning romance between the unfortunately cursed Miss Maelys Mitchelmore and Lady Georgianna Landrake, also known as the Duke of Annadale. A seemingly petty magical prank throws the two together, but what begins as a fluffy, magical comedy of manners soon veers into surprisingly dangerous waters. As Puck, the otherworldly observer--sarcastic, witty, and droll--Okoye will undoubtedly draw many laughs. Her animated delivery magnifies Hall's clever writing, which bridges the gap between historical fantasy and romance. Though some listeners may struggle to keep up with Hall as he alternates between the two genres, they will likely be enchanted with Puck, who breaks the fourth wall and makes teasing asides about genre tropes. VERDICT A charming magical adventure, perfect for fans of Gail Carriger's "The Custard Protocol" series.--Matthew Galloway

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Mortal Follies
A Novel
Alexis Hall
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